Norm, Variation, Language Change

This research forum studies patterns of linguistic variation, change and interactional behaviour in English, German, French, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish. 

The processes of change and the nature of the observed variation is linked to the question of linguistic norms. How do new norms emerge, and what can this process tell us about language as an instrument of human communication? We contribute internationally to debates on norm, variation and change within construction grammar, grammaticalisation theory, sociolinguistics, pragmatics, contrastive linguistics and perception theory.











Our projects explore various issues: large electronic corpora and the study of (changes in) language use; changes that promote an informalisation of language use; contextual embeddedness and the meaning of linguistic forms and how societal and technological changes over time can influence the conditions of communication and thus language use; contrastive and typological issues, such as interlanguage variation and other language contact phenomena as a source of knowledge about the potential in variation and language structure.

Current projects

  • Collaboration with GLOCALThe Global Council on Anthropological Linguistics, at SOAS, University of London, as “affiliate partner” 
  • Collaboration with the University of Warwick, UK. Scholar Will Amos will visit the institute from 8th to 14th November 2021. Planned talk on “Linguistic Landscape Studies”
  • Discursive and social challenges in the presentation of women by the Andalusian institutions (application within the research group “Institutional communication and social equality”, PI: Dr. Esperanza Alcaide Lara (University of Sevilla). Nieves Hernández-Flores, UCPH, is member of the research team. The financial application is still subject to the approval, but the research has started.
  • English and Globalisation in Denmark: A Changing Sociolinguistic Landscape
    The project investigates the current role of English in Denmark. Combining a large-scale survey, focus group interviews and a linguistic ethnographic case study, ‘English and Globalisation in Denmark: A Changing Sociolinguistic Landscape’ will analyse 1) the presence of English in the everyday lives of people in Denmark, 2) language attitudes and ideologies in relation to English, and 3) the use and symbolic meaning of English among young Danes. 
    PI: Dorte Lønsmann (ENGEROM), participants: Janus Mortensen (CIP), Jacob Thøgersen (NORS), Kamilla Kraft (postdoc ENGEROM).

Planned projects

  • Projects planned for further development and applications for external funding in the near future include
    • Informalization tendencies across the languages studied
    • Emergence of new communicative norms on the Internet
    • Cross-linguistic expressions of common events in a typological perspective
    • Changes in the conceptualisations of time in language

Finished projects

  • Pluridisciplinary project on Antibiotics in European Society – linguistics as a contributing field to understanding conversations between patients and doctors. UC-Care (University of Copenhagen Research Centre for Control of Antibiotic Resistance). UC-Care is a platform for the establishment of academia-industry partnerships. Project made possible by a 4-year grant (EUR 4,374,174) from the University of Copenhagen. Sandi Michele de Oliveira, Nieves Hernández-Flores, Kirsten J. Kragh and Erling Strudsholm obtained DKK 450,000 for linguistic investigations (doctor-patient communication, field-work) (2013-2016). See publications.
  • Cognitive modelling and meaning construction across languages: theory, implications and applications (Cogmod). Johan Pedersen, obtained funding (DKK 500,000) as a member of a collective project led by F. Ruiz de Mendoza (2014-17) from the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness. See publications.
  • When Inclusion Masks Exclusion: Disempowerment and Depoliticization of Minority Issues through 'Harmonizing' Discourses. Sandi Michele de Oliveira and Georg Wink obtained external funding (DKK 200,000) through the international network program (2014-2015), FKK, in collaboration with Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro.
  • Language in the new media. Anita Berit Hansen and Erling Strudsholm obtained DKK 25,620 from the Faculty of Humanities, for organizing a PhD course (November 2014) with international researchers.
  • Further training of members: Workshop on CLAN and ELAN transcription tools (transcription of spoken language from sound file or video) by Janus Mortensen and Katherine Kappa (June 2018).
  • Hosting of CILPR (Congrès International de Linguistique et de Philologie Romanes) (contact : Jan Lindschouw, Lene Schøsler) July 1st-6th 2019 ) and subsequent publication activity of selected papers.
  • Transient Multilingual Communities and the Formation of Social and Linguistic Norms (the TMC project). By working comparatively with longitudinal linguistic-ethnographic case studies of emerging social configurations, this project aims to theorize social and linguistic norms as ongoing processes rather than fixed products. Project members: Janus Mortensen (PI, CIP), Katherine Kappa (CIP), Kamilla Kraft (CIP), Dorte Lønsmann (Engerom) and Spencer Hazel (Newcastle University). The project is funded by the Independent Research Fund Denmark | Humanities, from September 2016 till December 2019 (DKK 5,979,271).  
  • Pre-seminar on “Language Contact” in November 2019 with focus on Danish-German, French-German, Italian-German Language Contact (see Events, calendar) ; confirmed participation of international scholars (contact: Lars Behnke). Part of the planned seminars at the occasion of the Reunification (“Genforeningen”) of Southern Jutland to Denmark (1920-2020), Language Contact Phenomena in Europe. 
  • Further training of members: Open workshops on digital tools in language corpus research Workshops on the tools AntCon and Coll.analysis by Kim Ebensgaard Jensen (November, December 2019, see Events, calendar).
  • Language Contact Phenomena in Europe. 
    Two-day seminar on “Language Contact in European Borderzones and in Multilingual cities” in August 2021, at the occasion of the Reunification (“Genforeningen”) of Southern Jutland to Denmark (1920-2020), contact: Anita Berit Hansen, Lars Behnke. 
  • Linguistic variation in European languages: New perspectives on diasystematic variation at the occasion of the centenary of Coseriu’s birth (1921-2021).
    Two-day international seminar in November 2021 (contact: Erling Strudsholm, Anita Berit Hansen).











This research forum is open to PhD students and postdocs. In the past few years we have had the pleasure of receiving Wojciech Lewandowski (Marie Curie), Lene Rotne (PhD) and Katherine Kappa (PhD stud., CIP) as well as Kamilla Kraft (Postdoc, CIP) and Stephanie Löbl (French). Present PhD students attached to the forum are Anders Andersen (Italian), Annika Schimpff (German) and Aisara Yessenova, Yao Zhang, Johanne Kirkeby and Marianne Haugaard Skov (English).

PhD student Pernille Berg Johnsson from Uppsala University visited the forum six weeks in the Fall 2021. Her project deals with pronunciation challenges in French L2 learners with Danish and Swedish mother tongue.

Our forum collaborates with the student grouping “Engerom Linguistic Circle” in order to tie MA-students closely to research (ELC, contact: Ingrid Kruse).






Name Title Phone E-mail
Andersen, Anders PhD Fellow +4535334161 E-mail
Behnke, Lars Teaching Associate Professor   E-mail
Hansen, Anita Berit Associate Professor +4535328450 E-mail
Hernández-Flores, Nieves Associate Professor +4535328441 E-mail
Jensen, Christian Associate Professor +4535330019 E-mail
Jensen, Kim Ebensgaard Associate Professor +4535333802 E-mail
Kirkeby, Johanne PhD Fellow +4535323917 E-mail
Kraft, Kamilla Assistant Professor   E-mail
Kragh, Kirsten A. Jeppesen Head of Studies +4535328591 E-mail
Lindschouw, Jan Juhl Associate Professor +4535328432 E-mail
Lønsmann, Dorte Associate Professor +4535336633 E-mail
Mortensen, Janus Professor +4535334020 E-mail
Pedersen, Johan Associate Professor +4535328428 E-mail
Schmuck, Mirjam Associate Professor +4535332385 E-mail
Schøsler, Lene Emerita   E-mail
Skov, Marianne Haugaard PhD Fellow +4535325469 E-mail
Strudsholm, Erling Associate Professor +4535328437 E-mail
Yessenova, Aisara PhD Fellow +4535325762 E-mail
Zhang, Yao PhD Fellow +4535322235 E-mail


Name Title Phone E-mail
Sandst, Line Adjunkt +4599408345